Wales politics

UKIP Wales leader Gill 'can't give up at last hurdle'

Nathan Gill and his wife Jana
Image caption Nathan Gill and his wife Jana at their Anglesey home

Unlike the other four main party leaders in Wales, Nathan Gill wasn't elected by his party members.

He was appointed by Nigel Farage in 2014.

Nevertheless, he still thinks he enjoys the support of the majority of UKIP members.

Now he must convince party members in north Wales to put him on top of their list of candidates for May's assembly election.

In each of the assembly's five regions, UKIP's candidates will be ranked in a ballot of party members.

Mr Gill says he fought for that ballot inside the party's National Executive Committee (NEC).

'Passionate'

Some were worried about candidates imposed on them from outside Wales - candidates like former Tory MPs Mark Reckless and Neil Hamilton.

Mr Gill won't be drawn on individuals. It's up to members to decide, he says.

But some say Mr Gill didn't do enough - that the entire selection process should have been handled in Wales and that Mr Gill should stand down

"I've worked in Wales for UKIP for 11 years. I know the vast majority of members. I've canvassed with people all over Wales in every single area," he says.

"I know the quality of the people that we've got, the passionate membership, the capability that we have. And I've stood up for them.

"And maybe some of the members haven't seen that because it's happened behind closed doors. But I've stood up for Wales."

Image caption Daniel Davies and Nathan Gill

Critics in other parties, who dismiss UKIP as anti-Welsh, will raise an eyebrow at that statement.

But the critics in his own party are the bigger problem.

And because the decisions on how candidates are selected were taken in three private NEC meetings, unless those critics were in the room they have to take Mr Gill at his word.

"There are people obviously who don't like me. There are people who do like me. But I think the people who back me by far outweigh those who don't."

Some of those speaking out are motivated by "personal reasons", he thinks, having changed their minds about standing as candidates. And those who say he fails to represent the rank-and-file are talking "nonsense".

Compared to the other parties, UKIP's selection procedure has been messy. But UKIP sells itself as the antidote to other parties.

Despite being an MEP, Mr Gill doesn't see himself as part of a political class.

Perhaps that's not surprising in a climate where politicians are routinely traduced. Who would identify themselves as members of the political class?

Image caption Mark Reckless is amongst those from outside Wales seeking to become AMs

I met him his at his home - a family-run bed and breakfast on Anglesey where he and his wife Jana are raising their five children.

Does part of him think he could do without the flack from those who want him to quit?

"Part of me does think that of course, I'm human. I've got a beautiful family. I've got a life outside politics."

So why carry on?

"Because we have the most important election in Wales for us in five years. We must get UKIP representation in that assembly.

"And also, very likely in five or six months time we will have the whole raison d'etre of UKIP.

"The whole reason why I joined UKIP is that referendum whether or not Britain should be a member of European Union.

"Whether we should be governed by Brussels or whether we think we're big enough to make our own laws.

"That is why I joined the party. I can't give up at the last hurdle."

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